The French Revolution

By: Madison Adams-Walker

A Bit of an Intro to Ease You Into It

The French Revolution: The French Revolution was a time in history that occurred in the late 1780's to the late 1790's. 1789-1799 to be exact. The French Revolution was a time in which France went from a monarchy ruled by King Louis XVI to a republic ruled by the people then to a Dictatorship ran by Napoleon. Was one of the bloodiest times in European History.

The Three Estates

The Three Estates were not the kind of estate you think of when you hear the word. The Three Estates were much like our "classes" we have here in the U.S. You know, First, Middle, and Lower classes. But, in France during their revolution, they were the First, Second, and Third estates.

The First Estate

The First Estate was made up of the Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. In total, the members of the First Estate made up 10% of the French land but paid little taxes to the government

The Second Estate

The Second Estate was made up of rich nobles. The members of the Second Estate owned 20% of the French land and were completely exempt from paying taxes to the government.

The Third Estate

The Third Estate made up 97% percent of the population and included poor peasants but also the well-educated middle-class otherwise called The Bourgeoise. The Third Estate paid 50% on their income to taxes. Members resented the special treatment the First & second Estates received. The members of the Third Estate also gained inspiration from the Enlightenment ideas of John Locke, Voltaire, & Rousseau. After seeing the success of the American Revolution, the Third Estate began demanding democracy, equality, and liberty in France.

Financial Problems and the Causes

Social tensions were made worse by a growing financial crisis (1770's-1780's)

Finances were so bad that by 1789, half of Frances budget was spent on interest, or the national debt. 25% of people were unemployed. This horrible debt was caused by the excessive spending by King Louis XVL & his wife Marie Anotinette. This reckless spending angered French citizens. By the end of 1789, France was out of money and the financial crisis only got worse.

Meeting of the Estates General

The estates general is when representatives from all three estates come together to discuss important things the government needs to do. The meeting of the Estates General was called together because they needed to discuss what they wanted the government to do about the current financial crisis. The idea pitched was to raise taxes but, knowing that the representatives from the third estate out-numbered the amount of reps. from the first and second estates combined, they decided to vote by order instead of by head. This means, the first and second estate would get what they wanted rather than what the "lessers" wanted. The raising of taxes took the largest toll on the third class since of course, they had less money than the other two estates. paying taxes was already hard enough. Adding more was killer.
After the decisions to raise taxes and vote by order were made, the Third Estate became angered.

The Tennis Court Oath

After having their needs overlooked, the Third Estate formed a new National Assembly. This was they're own government that would make laws for the French People.

In 1789, the National Assembly swore to a Tennis Court Oath promising a new constitution & limitations to the king's power. The National Assembly wrote their revolutionary ideals in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen which said: "Men are born free and equal in rights." the rights to "Liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression." the declaration guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom to equal justice.

Storming of Bastille

When rumors circulated that the king was going to send an army to Paris, the French citizens attacked the prison Bastille to seize weapons that they needed to defend themselves against the king's army. The storming of the Bastille in 1789 represented the beginning of the French Revolution.

The March on Versailles.

The Reign of Terror

The radical leaders of the National Convention feared that "enemies of the revolution" would try to overthrow France's new republic. in 1793, radical Maximilien Robespierre slowly gained control of the National Convention. From 1793-1794, Robespierre executed 40,000 "traitors" during an era known as the Reign of Terror. The Reign of Terror ended when French citizens turned on Robespierre and executed him for treason. He was executed using his own ideal form of execution, the Guillotine.

Rise of Napoleon

Napoleon took control of France and created the largest empire since the Romans. After taking control, Napoleon crowned himself emperor and created a new set of laws called the Napoleonic Code